TF Chronicles – The Premier League Grounds Part Five

This is the last part of our list of Premier League grounds. If you have missed the rest then you can catch up here. Listed below is part five of these stadiums and some of our favourite matches and memories from watching United play in them, along with the opposite end of the spectrum – some of our worst matches and memories from United games in these stadiums. Every United fan will have their own favourites and worst ones, but these are the ones that stand out for myself (@luzhniki2008)  and Kim (@Sparkly_Devil1) :-

42) Southampton – St Marys
Southampton moved to this new 32,000+ stadium for the start of the 2001-02 season. An impressive stadium, very similar to Leicester’s new Walkers Stadium, with great facilities for the fans, but without the history of The Dell. This stadium hasn’t brought the club the same luck as The Dell did to Southampton yet, as they were relegated at the end of the 2004-05 season and haven’t been back since. The positive thing for United’s away support was a doubled away ticket allocation from 1500 at The Dell to 3,000 here.
Favourite match – United’s first visit there in January 2002 – a great 3-1 victory, with David Beckham scoring a great opening goal.
Worst match – United’s only defeat there (we have also won 2 FA Cup matches there) – a 1-0 loss in August 2003, which meant a long trip home for us.

43) Stoke City – Britannia Stadium
Stoke City moved to this stadium in 1997 from their old Victoria Ground. It is a modern 28,000 stadium, similar to The Riverside stadium and Pride Park but without 3 of the corners filled in. United visited here in a pre-season friendly in August 2003 in what proved to be the farewell appearance for Fabian Barthez in a United shirt. Stoke were promoted to the Premier League for the 2008-09 Season and have remained there ever since. United won there in each of the 3 seasons 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 which all stand out as equal favourites. This season they drew there for the 1st time, so that automatically makes it the worst one.

44) Sunderland – Roker Park
United only played one match there in the Premier League – in 1996-97 season, when we lost 2-1 there in March 1997, only a few days after destroying Porto 4-0 at Old Trafford. United received a very poor ticket allocation that day, on an open terrace behind the goal. Roker Park at the time still had a large proportion of terracing, but due to safety regulations capacity there had been reduced to just over 22,000 as the club was allowed to temporarily keep terraces open until they either re-developed Roker Park or moved to a new stadium. Sunderland could do little to extend capacity of Roker Park so moved to a new stadium, at the start of the following season.

45) Sunderland – Stadium of Light
Sunderland started the 1997-98 in this new 42,000 (soon expanded to 49,000) stadium no longer in the top flight. The Stadium of Light name is said to be in tribute to the mining industry from the area, not just a copy of the name Benfica call their stadium. Sunderland returned to the Premier League for the 1999/2000 Season and stayed there until the end of 2002-03. They returned for the 2005-06 Season, but were relegated straight back down. They returned in the 2007-08 season with Roy Keane as manager and have remained in the Premier League ever since. This is not a popular away trip for United fans as we have continually received a severely restricted ticket allocation, due to our fans ‘persistantly standing’ during matches.
Favourite match – the 3-1 victory there in 2005-06, which also saw Giuseppe Rossi scoring his only Premier League goal for United that day.
Worst match – the disappointing 1-1 draw there in 2002-03 which saw Roy Keane being sent off, after being strongly provoked by Jason McAteer.

46) Swindon Town – County Ground
United visited this ground only once – 1993/94 Season, Swindon’s only season in the Premier League. The majority of United’s fans were stood on an open terrace behind the goal and a small number were seated in the main stand there. It was a very frustrating 2-2 draw for United that day. Early on in the match Mark Hughes was punched in the head by a Swindon fan stood on the terraces as he went for a ball on the touchline, which annoyed Hughes and the United players immensely. This was followed by Eric Cantona being sent off for a stamp on Swindon’s John Moncur who had been provoking him. Not a stadium with good memories for United fans.

47) Tottenham Hotspur – White Hart Lane
Tottenham have been in the Premier League since it began in 1992-93. During this time, White Hart Lane has had significant developments to this stadium, particularly the North and South stands being re-built in the 1990s. Until the last 2 seasons, United received a decent 3,000 ticket allocation (with the exception of 1994-95 and 1997-98 seasons when building work meant a reduced stadium capacity) but this has now been reduced to less than 2,000 due to United fans ‘persistently standing.’ Capacity at White Hart Lane is currently just over 36,000 which is seen as too low by a club of its size and support. The 2 options the club has been looking at have been to re-locate to the new Olympic Games stadium, or to build a new stadium on open land right next to White Hart Lane. With West Ham seemingly being given the Olympic Stadium despite opposition from Tottenham, it looks like the new White Hart Lane stadium could be the way forward.
Favourite match – the 5-3 comeback victory there in September 2001. At half time United were losing 3-0 and the 2nd half was one of the most memorable performances for United in the Premier League. It was a truly great match to be at for the United fans and for the players who were involved in. New signings Juan Sebastian Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy were in great form that day especially. After the match, Ruud did a TV interview in which he said that Bobby Charlton had come into the dressing room after the match and told him – ‘Today you’ve learnt what it’s like to be a United player’ This was a very true statement and from then on, it always felt like Ruud had a special bond with United and especially the fans. A truly special day to support United.
Worst match – the 4-1 defeat there on New Years Day 1996. A bad day for United fans who travelled down there and for the players, especially William Prunier who had a shocker in his final appearance for the club.

48) Watford – Vicarage Road
United have visited Watford twice, when Watford were in the Premier League in the 1999-2000 and 2006-07 seasons. United won both matches – 3-2 in 2000 and 2-1 in 2006, so they stand out equally. United received a bigger allocation for the 1st visit, as by the time of the 2nd visit a large part of the older main stand had been closed for safety reasons, taking capacity below 20,000. This stand has since been partly demolished, but not rebuilt yet. The 3 other sides of the stadium are modern grandstands – one built in the 1980s and the other in the 1990s, making it a nice away ground to visit.

49) West Bromwich Albion – The Hawthorns
West Brom were 1st promoted to the Premier League in season 2002-03 and since then they have been in the Premier League in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11 and the current season. They have been very much a yo-yo club, although their fans will be hoping that they are now settling in the Premier League. The Hawthorns is a modern looking stadium, having been redeveloped in phases since the mid 1990s and has a current capacity of approximately 26,500. The stadium is easy to find as well, being just off the M5 Motorway. United have always received an allocation of over 2500 tickets each time there, behind the goals and have generated plenty of noise. United are unbeaten in the Premier League there as well – have won all 6 matches, so no worst matches. The favourite match has to be the 5-0 victory there in a midweek night match there in January 2009.

50) West Ham United – The Boleyn Ground, Upton Park
West Ham are another team who have been in and out of the Premier League. They were 1st in the Premier League for the 1993-94 season and remained there until the end of the 2001-02 season. They returned in the 2005-06 season and remained until the end of the 2010-11 season. Upton Park has been completely rebuilt on 3 sides of the ground – the Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking stands behind the goals in the 1990s and the main stand in 2001, making it a modern 35,000+ Stadium. However, West Ham look likely to relocate to the new Olympic Stadium in a few years time, rather than re-develop the remaining older side of the ground which would have taken capacity to over 40,000. This move is still currently being challenged by Tottenham Hotspur. If they move to the Olympic Stadium, they will be leaving a stadium with an awful lot of history. When Manchester United visit there, they are not popular with the West Ham fans. This was not helped when United signed Paul Ince from them. David Beckham became the next hate figure in a United shirt in 1998 after he was sent off for England at the World Cup. United have only lost twice at Upton Park and have won there quite a few times, with plenty of draws too.
Favourite match – Season 2010-11 the 4-2 comeback victory there in April. This match will be remembered for Rooney scoring a great hat-trick and also the over-reaction to him being caught swearing in front of a mobile TV camera.
Worst match – Season 1994-95 – the 1-1 draw there which meant that we lost out to Blackburn Rovers for the Premier League title. This was one of the most painful Premier League matches for United, especially after losing there in April 1992 in the old First Division, which also wrecked our title bid back then. If West Ham leave Upton Park – the 1992 and 1995 games there will be the most remembered ones, alongside the 1967 6-1 victory there, which clinched our last First Division Championship. Definitely mixed memories for United fans from this Stadium.

51) Wigan Athletic – JJB Stadium/ DW Stadium
The JJB Stadium (or DW Stadium as it became known in 2009) is Wigan Athletic’s new 25,000 stadium which they moved to in 1999 and share with Wigan Warriors Rugby League team. Since moving there from Springfield Park, attendances have increased as they have moved up the divisions, but they rarely sell out, as rugby still remains a very popular sport there. Wigan have been in the Premier League since the 2005-06 season, helped by their owner and successful businessman Dave Whelan’s backing of the club. United receive a decent allocation of around 4,500. This could be more though, as Wigan don’t usually sell all their tickets when they play us and there are usually a couple of thousand empty seats. United have a perfect record at Wigan, winning all six Premier League matches there, so there is definitely no worst match there. The best game is easily the 2-0 victory there in May 2008 on the last day of the League Season, which clinched us the title there. After the match we were presented with the Premier League trophy on the pitch there and there were big celebrations with the players and the fans in the stadium. From there, we went to Moscow to complete a League and Champions League double.

52) Wolves – Molineux
Wolves were promoted to the Premier League in 2003-04, then were relegated. They returned for the 2009-10 season and have remained there ever since. Molineux was redeveloped in the early 1990s, making it a modern 29,000+ stadium. This redevelopment has started again, with plans to eventually transform the stadium into a 50,000 capacity, depending on finances and the clubs league status. This will be done in 4 possible phases. Phase 1 has already begun, demolishing one of the stands behind the goal built in the 1990s. For United’s visits there they have been housed each time in the Steve Bull lower tier, which runs along the side of the pitch, giving the club around 2500 tickets. The layout of this away section has always made it difficult for United fans to make noise, as they are spread out in the small numbers of rows, across the side of the pitch.
Favourite match – United’s only Premier League victory there in March 2010, with a Paul Scholes winner.
Worst match – the February 2011 2-1 defeat there was not good, but the January 2004 defeat felt worse. Rio Ferdinand was substituted in this match and did not play again until well into September after being banned for missing a drugs test. Also, in 2004 Paul Ince was in the Wolves side and at the end of the match made sure that he really celebrated in front of our fans and taunted us. Denis Irwin was also in the Wolves side that day and by comparison he got a great reception from the United fans.

There have been so many great memories from United’s away games in the Premier League, as well as some tough games and bad defeats. Throughout this, United’s away support has been magnificent and demand for away tickets is extremely high, meaning all away games our sold out. Hopefully this support does help to give he players a lift, particularly as many of the home sides treat the visit of Manchester United as their biggest home league game of the season.

About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.

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